GO FOR THE GRAVELS
Although a swim on somewhere like the River Severn might seem to have a similar depth and pace all the way across, there are definite areas that barbel prefer. The most productive of these will be shallow water, which in turn will be much faster and better oxygenated in summer when rivers are often low and sluggish. Combine this with a gravel bottom and you’re in business.
USE ENOUGH LEAD
As with any type of fishing, your rig needs to act naturally in order to get a barbel to take the bait. That means keeping everything nailed to the deck. A feeder that’s carrying too little weight to hold bottom will roll down the swim, with no chance of a fish picking up the bait. Before the session, cast with a range of different weights of feeder until you find the one that holds bottom just where you want it. Be aware that the flow could increase when you start fishing, so have some even heavier feeders to hand just in case.
DON’T GO UNDERGUNNED
Barbel fishing isn’t like going after roach or dace. You have to make sure that you are able to take control of every battle and that means using suitably robust tackle. A long hooklength is important because the fish seem to spook and feed less confidently close to a feeder. Start with a 5ft tail of around 0.20mm hooklength material, matched to strong size 12 or 14 hook.
OLD SCHOOL BAITS CAN BE THE BEST
Pellets are catching ever more barbel on rivers, but at times they can be a bit too much of a slow burner. For a more high-impact feed, it’s hard to see past hemp and casters. These small particles, introduced via a blockend feeder, will keep fish grubbing around for ages and pull other valuable fish, such as chub and perch, into the area too, letting you catch these while waiting for a barbel to pull the rod in!
PUT A BOW IN THE LINE
If you keep a very tight line between the rod tip and feeder when barbel fishing, then you’re asking for trouble! Bites can be ferocious and before you’ve even picked the rod up you could have been broken, even when using heavy gear, due to the lack of forgiveness in the set-up.
The solution is to have a bow in the line, which means that the line is slacker and creates a cushion that reduces the chance of being smashed. Bites when fishing like this will normally be a sharp knock on the tip and then a drop back as a fish moves the feeder and the line slackens off.